Caster: I'll do it for Madiba
Caster Semenya (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Women's 800m world champion Caster Semenya has said she is dedicating her title defence at the IAAF World Championships to Nelson Mandela.
Although Semenya refused to speak directly to the media on Saturday as the South African athletics team jetted off to Daegu, South Korea for next week's IAAF World Championships, Caster Semenya's manager, Percy Mphaho released the message in a prepared statement.
The two-lap athlete this week communicated to the media via her spokesman and newly appointed South African manager.
Mphaho said on Thursday they were considering charging the media for exclusive interviews with her.
Mphaho later sent out a statement saying Semenya was "ready and determined to give our country a double glory".
She was cleared last year to run against women, following gender tests conducted in 2009.
"Caster Semenya is not bothered by the past and she appreciates the love and the support that South Africans and fans have shown in the past and she will do her best to win the title," Mpaho said in a statement.
"As Caster Semenya's South African manager I have been observing her training sessions and I am also confident that she will win the IAAF World Championships."
Semenya said she would dedicate her title defence to former president Nelson Mandela, because she had always admired his principles.
"This one will be for our former state man, papa Nelson Mandela. He taught me how to persevere and forgive," said Semenya.
This follows the 20-year-old's withdrawal from the World Student Games held in Shenzhen, China due to a niggling back injury.
On Wednesday, Beeld newspaper quoted unnamed training partners saying Semenya was overweight, was regularly late for practice and had clashed with her coach Michael Seme.
Her management team subsequently denied reports that the world 800 metres champion was unfit and unprepared to defend her title at the world championships.
"We wish to dismiss any rumours that there is trouble in her camp," her spokesmen Mthokozisi Xulu and Tshepo Seema said in a statement on Thursday.
"These rumours are seen as attempts to discourage and distract her from her glorious quest for gold.
"We furthermore wish to assure South Africans and Caster's supporters that all is well with our champ and that she is going to put up a strong fight in defence of her title," they said.
When contacted on Thursday Seema said Semenya would not conduct any media interviews until after the global showpiece.